Darko Churlinov, Marcin Kaminski and Ko Itakura aiming to qualify for the World Cup
Five Schalke players have been selected to play for their countries for the upcoming international break. Three of those players, Darko Churlinov, Marcin Kaminski and Ko Itakura, are all looking to book their place in Qatar with their nations.
North Macedonia, who finished second in Group J behind Germany to qualify for the play-offs, will face Italy on Thursday (24/3). Should they defeat the reigning European champions in Palermo, they will take on the winners of the other semi-final between Portugal and Turkey in a straight shootout on Tuesday (29/3) to make the World Cup.
Kaminski back in the Poland squad
Marcin Kaminski has been called up by Poland for the first time in almost three years. They were drawn against Russia in their semi-final play-off, however since all Russian teams have been suspended by FIFA, Poland are automatically in the final. They will play the winner of Sweden and Czech Republic on Tuesday (29/3) for a place in Qatar. To prepare for that massive match, they will place Scotland in a friendly on Thursday (24/3).
Ko Itakura and Japan are second in their qualifying group, a position which would see them qualify for the World Cup, with two matchdays left. A win away to nearest rivals Australia on Thursday (24/3) would secure their place in Qatar, as they are three points clear of them currently. If they draw or lose, they would have another chance to qualify five days later when they host Vietnam (29/3).
Kosovo and Blendi Idrizi have two friendlies scheduled for this international break. Their first opponent is Burkina Faso on Thursday (24/3), before a trip to play Switzerland on Tuesday (29/3).
Calhanoglu selected for Germany U20s
Kerim Calhanoglu is in the Germany U20s squad for friendlies against Italy (24/3) and England (29/3). Malick Thiaw was also called up by a Germany youth side, though he has had to pull out of the U21s squad with a knee problem.
Italy – Germany, 24.3, 17:00, Ascoli Picono
England – Germany, 29.3, 20:30, Colchester
World Cup qualification play-offs
Italy – North Macedonia, 24.3, 20:45, Palermo
If they beat Italy:
Winner of Portugal/Turkey – North Macedonia, 29.3, 20:45, venue TBD
Kosovo – Burkina Faso, 24.3, 18:00, Pristina
Switzerland – Kosovo, 29.3, 18:00, Zurich
World Cup qualifiers
Australia – Japan, 24.3, 10:10, Sydney
Japan – Vietnam, 29.3, 12:35, Saitama
Scotland – Poland, 24.3, 20:45, Glasgow
World Cup qualification play-off
Poland – Winner of Sweden/Czech Republic, 29.3, 20:45 CET, venue TBA
*all kick-off times CET